The Australian Education Union (Federal) says the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to establish a National Commission of Inquiry into post-secondary education is a great first step towards rebuilding TAFE, and placing it at the centre of a revitalised post-secondary education system.

It follows Labor’s announcement last year of increased funding to TAFE, and a guaranteed minimum two thirds funding to Australia’s public TAFE institutions.

“Australia’s TAFE system is in crisis. The sector lost one-sixth of its financing in 2016, with operating revenues falling 16.8 per cent to $8.14 billion,” said Pat Forward, Federal TAFE Secretary for the Australian Education Union.

“Overall government funding for the sector has plunged 23 per cent since 2012. Since 2005, government real recurrent expenditure per annual hour has declined 31.5 per cent.

“A root and branch review of the system is long overdue, and it is critically important that this include funding sources and levels, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and quality assurance.

“Currently, the TAFE and vocational education sectors are without any leadership nationally. Underfunding and the lack of coherent leadership have compounded the loss of trust, and enrolments in the sector are collapsing.

“The Turnbull Government has cut more than $177 million from the sector in the 2017 budget alone. It has overseen one of the worst examples of rorting in the history of the sector under the failed VET FEE HELP scheme.

“Private training providers have damaged the reputation of Australia’s vocational education sector. They put profit before education. They cut corners, deliver poor quality training and rip students off. The legacy of the Turnbull government will be a generation of young Australians left with massive debts for worthless qualifications. Privatisation of skills and training has failed.

“The time for a serious review of TAFE and its role in the sector and in society is long overdue.

“We are calling on all political parties to put public TAFEs back at the centre of our vocational education system. The establishment of a National Commission of Inquiry, with TAFE at its centre is a welcome first step towards rebuilding the sector,” said Ms Forward

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